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Hands-on with Windows 10 consumer preview: Hey Cortana, is that a Start Menu?

Mark Hachman | Jan. 23, 2015
In Technical Preview Build 9924, Cortana joins forces with notifications and search to make WIndows more responsive. There's a Start Menu of sorts, too.

All of those notifications pop up in the Action Center, at the right side of the screen. As on Windows Phone, Windows organizes them under different headings to make them easier to find. 

About the only criticisms I can levy at Windows 10's implementation of Cortana is that I find it doubtful that anyone's going to talk to Cortana except in the privacy of their own home. ("Hey Cortana, how do I get rid of a wart?") And the notification I saw might get lost way down in the right corner of a large display. Otherwise, however, I think you'll be quite happy.

I'm going to need a bit of time to play around with Continuum, as what I saw wasn't quite what I expected. The premise of Continuum is that you're presented with a tablet-friendly environment when a tablet or two-in-one is undocked, and a Desktop environment otherwise. 

This should happen automatically, but there's also a small button at the bottom of the Action Center to put the screen into tablet mode. What happens then seems to be a combination of things: apps that feature larger touch-friendly icons, and a more easily accessible way to snap apps from one side of the screen to the other. One small feature that's been added is to make apps windowed and swipeable. In other words, you can close the window with the 'X' in the corner, or swipe it away with a vertical swipe.

Still, what I expected was more like...

A full-page Start menu, er, screen, er, menu
Honestly, this feels like Microsoft is just trolling us. After eliminating the Start page in favor of a Start menu that combines a Windows 7 icon list with Windows 8-style live tiles, now you can blow that Start menu up to a full screen to become a Menu? Oh, whatever. If you find it useful, terrific. Otherwise, it's good for a giggle.

In our limited time we didn't go searching through all the settings menus to see what was new, although some of the icons in the Control Panel appear slightly different, for example. 

Build 9924 of Windows 10 mostly adds Cortana and notifications, and that's plenty for an interim release. We look forward to trying it and telling you all about it.


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